Bass Fishing

The Drop on Dropshotting

Fishing Techniques

Rarely does a technique come along that revolutionizes the way we fish for bass.

In recent years, flipping helped launch an all-out assault on shallow-water bass. Don lovino's Doodle worm magic, commonly referred to as "shakin'," put the hurt on many a deep-water structure fish. Of course, splitshotting wins more club and team tournaments than any other Western method.

The next great bass fishing technique to sweep through this country is already here. "Dropshotting" (sometimes called downshotting or under-shotting) is currently used by many top Western pros to score victories in major pro-am events.

Dropshotting is a technique that was developed in Japan to offset the heavy pressure that most Japanese lakes must endure. However, getting bit on a Japanese reservoir is tricky because their bass are "smart fish."

Like so many other techniques, every angler has his idea of what Dropshotting is supposed to be; and like so many other techniques, many variations do catch fish. I have discussed this subject with other anglers via e-mail and chat for the last six months. I have also spent time with Scott Whitmer of "No Name Worm Company," who has been pouring dropshot worms and sending them to Japan for several years. Scott understands more about Japanese dropshotting than anyone I have spoken with, and I owe him much of what I know about this technique. I have also been to the drawing board several times myself to figure out the intricacies of this rapidly developing phenomenon.

The Technique

Dropshotting is a finesse worm fishing technique involving a plastic worm being fished on a small, live-bait hook, rigged with the point exposed, and fished above a weight at the bottom of the line. This technique is still being defined and refined in this country, and many questions still need to be answered. For example:

Where is a dropshot most effective? These answers will seem a little wide in scope, but I have seen this technique work in each situation.

  1. Image
    Dropshotting can be done in severe weather.
    Dropshotting can be done in severe weather.
    Dropshotting is an excellent structure technique. Locate deep structure and drop the bait directly on top of the fish (down to 50 feet and deeper.)
  2. Cast to the shore and work the bait back to the boat.
  3. Putting your boat on the bank, cast into deeper water, and work uphill (very good in early spring.)
  4. Dropshotting over bedding fish.
  5. Flip a drop-shotted worm along deep tulles or grass beds using a heavier setup.

While there is no way to dropshot incorrectly, there are many things you can do to improve your presentation, thus improving your chances of catching more fish.

The Rod

The dropshot technique starts with the rod action. Dropshot fishing is usually a light-tackle technique, which means spinning rods and using 4- to 6-pound line. Here is where we encounter our first problem with this technique. Almost all worming rods come with a fast tip to ensure the "eye-crossing" pressure needed to set the hook on a bass and be as sensitive as possible to detect the "nothing bites," often associated with finicky bass.

To properly dropshot, a "spongy" or "soft noodle tip" is needed for two reasons:

  1. When working a drop-shotted worm, we want a "quivering" or "pulsating" rhythm on our worms. A fast-tipped rod will impart too much action on the worm, causing it to dart and loop very unnaturally.
  2. Fish on the dropshot rig do not give the subtle "tap-tap" associated with other worm fishing techniques. Since the worm is up off the bottom and "in their face," bass usually move horizontally to the bottom when they strike, so the bite gives the sensation of having the rod torn out of the angler's hand. A spongy tip is needed to absorb this "big tug," much like glass cranking rods absorb the strike on crankbaits and topwater lures.
A nice largemouth on Lake Perris caught with a dropshot rig.
A nice largemouth on Lake Perris was caught with a dropshot rig.

Again, a typical fast-tipped worm rod will not absorb the bite very well, and we may pull the worm out of the fish's mouth before we get a good hookset.

This presents us with problem number two. Trout rods have the best tip for dropshotting. However, they rarely have the back bone to fight and land a bass properly.

The Tackle

Dropshot baits can come in various shapes and colors.
Dropshot baits can come in various shapes and colors.

Your favorite soft plastic worm will work for dropshotting, with the one rule of thumb being the bigger the worm, the heavier the weight. This is because you need the weight on the bottom to create the correct action. A light weight with a large worm will get jerked off the bottom, and the action on the worm will not be as effective. Generally, with a 2-inch worm, I will use 4- to 6-pound test line and a 3/16- to 1/4-ounce weight. On larger worms up to 4 inches, I will use 8- to 10-pound line, and I like to use weights between 1/4 and 3/8 of an ounce. Regular worm hooks rigged Texas style might help you confidently fish this strange-looking technique. However, a small live-bait hook, in size 4, rigged with the hook exposed through the front tip of a 2- to 3-inch worm can be dynamite! Bass rarely ever hit the dropshot worm tail first. Just as they would strike a shad or minnow, its head first is where our hook is.

Tips That Make A Difference

Many anglers are fishing their version of the dropshot technique and catching fish. Having spent a considerable amount of time refining my technique, here are a few observations that make a difference:

  1. Light line, 4 to 6 pounds, gets bit better than does heavier line. But a bite is a bite, and when things are tough, I am happy to get them when possible.
  2. Learning to use a drop-loop and using the small live bait hook rigged through the front tip of the worm enhances the "quiver" of the worm.
  3. A swivel weight at the bottom of the rig will prevent line twist and make the experience a lot more pleasant.
  4. The right rod, one with a spongy tip and a strong backbone, not only helps create the perfect action but also plays a significant role in absorbing the heavy "tug" associated with a bite on the dropshot.
  5. Using your favorite fish attractant is a must.
  6. Fishing smaller-than-usual worms, especially those with a slim profile, get bit very well when the bite is tough. True dropshot worms have tiny rattles poured into them, and many anglers "in the know" swear by them.

Once again, has given you the inside scoop. Now you have the drop on dropshotting.

Reprinted with permission from Bass West Magazine